This is the Pump’s Christmas issue and I ought to consider some aspect of Christmas. However, I was just reading a lengthy letter from my American sister-in-law, who’s from just down the road fromNashvilleinTennessee. This was an appropriately rambling letter about a several day long guided hike with her husband and some friends in the West of Ireland. They were having a meal in a restaurant on the Dingle Peninsular, when she saw something on the wall that attracted her – she took down the name ‘Desiderata’ and googled it when she got home. She is a very committed Christian and broadcasts regularly throughout theUSAandCanada, but she had not come across this before.
It reminded me to read it again, after an absence of some years and it moved me much as it had before, so much so that I thought it was a pretty good Christmas message to those who have never seen it before as well as to those for whom it will already be very familiar. So here it is:
Go placidly amid the noise & haste, & remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly & clearly; and listen to others, even the dull & ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud & aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain & bitter; for always there will be greater & lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity & disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue & loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees & the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
erefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors & aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery & broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.
FOUND IN OLD ST PAUL’S CHURCH, BALTIMORE; DATED 1692
Be Happy at Christmas – and before! – and after! – it is very much a matter of personal decision, not accident.